That time of the year approaches when the aroma of pithas tingle my senses- albeit imaginary. For I am seven seas away from my birth land, in a faraway country where try as I might to recreate the Bhogali bihus and the urukas of my childhood, I fail.
Every January of the 90s brought in with them, the dying embers of New Year's eve celebrations which were flamed again to raging exhilaration for Magh bihu. Grandparents, uncles and aunts would descend for evening teas to discuss the preparations on the days leading up to Uruka. People would be brought in to set up the tent, to prepare the cooking area and we children will mill about, trying to just soak in the happiness that seemed to be radiating from the adults. Even then, we knew we were in the midst of something that creates blissful memories. And those memories emerge in adulthood, to catch us unawares.
The day of uruka will dawn, and our home (or aita's home, some years) will become a hub of activity, adults working hard for all the arrangements, building the magnificent meji, prepping for the evening bhuj, and we kids will run about, the wintery sun paling in the heat of our excitement. And as it will set, the great bhuj will begin, people arriving, warm greetings and hot cup of teas and pithas precursors to a fun evening.
Around the meji everyone will gather, caps and warm clothes armour against the foggy evening. Storytelling sessions will start and then one uncle will host a quiz and we all will be on alert trying to outdo one another.
Then we will be told the funny family stories (which had already been heard a hundred times), laughter ringing into the wintry night.
And ah, the feast of kath aloos, maas, manghxo, and what not, the ladies of the family surpassing themselves every year.
The evening will draw to a close late night when we no longer can keep our eyes open, our tummies full, feet warm, and our hearts too.
It is said small moments make big memories- nothing truer has been said, for, in my mind, I can clearly still hear my aita telling a story, the glow on her face from the meji; my koka with his serene smile, I can still smell the kath aloos, can feel the warm cup of tea, I can still hear the tinkling laughter, and I can still see all of us sitting around the meji, sharing words and silence, one big happy family of three generations, soaking in the heat and blessings from that meji.
Those were the golden days, those were the golden urukas of my childhood, the meji's ardour still warming my heart. The one evening each year full of life and laughter.
Thousands of miles away today, I can still feel that joy and laughter. The heat of the bygone bihus pierces my heart, opening up the flood of memories that are waiting to wreak my soul, fighting to sweep me back to where I belong. To those evenings when life was simple, when joys were abundant.